The new head of In­ter­pol must con­tinue re­forms

The Myanmar Times - - News -

GIVEN China’s re­peated at­tempts to reach be­yond its bor­ders to nab dis­si­dents, it is con­cern­ing that the new pres­i­dent of In­ter­pol, Meng Hong­wei, was pre­vi­ously a top Chi­nese se­cu­rity of­fi­cial. But around when Meng was se­lected to head In­ter­pol, the 190-na­tion police co­op­er­a­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion en­dorsed badly needed pro­ce­dural changes to bet­ter pro­tect against abuse of its no­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem by coun­tries at­tempt­ing to press po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated prose­cu­tions.

In­ter­pol, based in Lyon, France, is a net­work of police forces, and its in­for­ma­tion shar­ing has of­ten meant quick ac­tion against sus­pected ter­ror­ists, criminals and fugi­tives. But the or­gan­i­sa­tion has been strongly crit­i­cised in re­cent years for serv­ing as the hand­maiden to re­pres­sive regimes such as Rus­sia, China and oth­ers who used the sys­tem to go af­ter po­lit­i­cal foes, in­clud­ing dis­si­dents, hu­man rights ac­tivists, jour­nal­ists and busi­ness­peo­ple. A re­lated prob­lem has been the ex­treme dif­fi­culty faced by peo­ple who are wrongly in­cluded on In­ter­pol lists and want to be re­moved from a des­ig­na­tion that can have de­bil­i­tat­ing con­se­quences to rep­u­ta­tions and to the abil­ity to travel.

In­ter­pol cir­cu­lates what are called “red no­tices” at the re­quest of a mem­ber coun­try seek­ing to help catch a fugi­tive, and it also shares “dif­fu­sions”, which are less for­mal and are in­tended to re­quest the ar­rest or lo­ca­tion of a per­son, or to ac­quire more in­for­ma­tion for a police in­ves­ti­ga­tion. In­ter­pol’s con­sti­tu­tion says it is “strictly for­bid­den” to in­ter­vene in po­lit­i­cal af­fairs, and that it must carry out its work “in the spirit of the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights”. But as the num­ber of red no­tices has sky­rock­eted in the past decade, so have com­plaints about abuses. A non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion, Fair Tri­als, based in Bri­tain, charged in a study three years ago that In­ter­pol’s pro­tec­tions against abuse were “in­ef­fec­tive”, and de­clared just re­cently that it is “too easy for coun­tries to use Red No­tices as po­lit­i­cal tools to per­se­cute refugees, jour­nal­ists, and ac­tivists be­yond their own bor­ders”.

In re­cent years, In­ter­pol has be­gun to re­spond to the com­plaints. A pol­icy put in place two years ago has bet­ter shielded refugees. On Novem­ber 9, the group’s Gen­eral Assem­bly, meet­ing in Bali, Indonesia, backed re­forms of its in­for­ma­tion sys­tems. Th­ese will re­struc­ture the part of In­ter­pol that han­dles re­quests for red no­tices and dif­fu­sions to make sure they are in com­pli­ance with In­ter­pol’s own rules, and also will help those who want to ap­peal or delete data in the sys­tem. While all the de­tails are not yet clear, the steps are promis­ing. In­ter­pol’s sec­re­tary gen­eral, Jür­gen Stock, has re­peat­edly em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing hu­man rights as well as law en­force­ment.

What­ever views Meng brings from his ex­pe­ri­ence in re­pres­sive China, he must not brake the In­ter­pol re­form ef­fort, and should ac­cel­er­ate the pace of change. It is the right thing do to in prin­ci­ple, and also right for prag­matic rea­sons. In­ter­pol will be strength­ened if it spends less time is­su­ing red no­tices for dis­si­dents and more time in the pur­suit of real criminals.

– The Wash­ing­ton Post

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.